Australian instrumentalist Plini blends the space age with the classic for his signature Strandberg.
“I played an Ibanez for nine or 10 years and eventually I decided I would like a new guitar. At the time I saw Chris Letchford [Scale The Summit] was playing a Strandberg, Tosin Abasi from Animals As Leaders was playing one for a bit and Misha from Periphery was playing one. They looked fucking amazing so I thought, ‘That’s the guitar I need.’
“Eventually, I was on holiday going to watch a band in Berlin called Intervals and Aaron [Marshall] from that band was playing a Strandberg and I’d talked to him a bit online but I missed his set because I was late to the show, which is in character for me, but we met up afterwards and I got to play his guitar. And after holding it and feeling it I thought, ‘This is the most comfortable guitar of all time and I need one even more than ever.’
“We did a signature guitar in 2015, paired with the signature guitar for Paul Masvidal from Cynic. Mine was a fixed bridge and his had a tremolo arm, and we were touring Japan and Ola Strandberg was there at a promo event and me and Paul were kind of looking at each other going, ‘I kind of want one with a whammy bar’ and ‘I want one with a fixed bridge.’ And I had my inlaid [neck] and he had his, so Ola kind of got the screwdriver and Frankenstein’d it.”
“It’s based pretty much on the Boden model; it’s got an ash body, maple top and then an Australian blackwood veneer on top, which probably annoys guitar collector purists because it’s not a big chunk of wood, it’s a little skin, which I like because you can make a lot of pretty tops from one tree. And our children will still have forests to play in.”
“It’s got Suhr pickups: the SSH Plus [bridge] and SSV [neck]. I’m not really a gear guy but I went to the house of the guy that runs the Strandberg operation for the States and he had about 20 different models, all with different pickups and I just sat there for a day playing everything until I came across these pickups as my favourites and that’s why they’re there.
“I guess the reason I landed on these pickups is because the guitar is such a futuristic version of what an electric guitar can be, these are the best version of vintage pickups. I liked the fact that it’s blending the two different worlds in a way that you can make this sound like a classic guitar, even though it looks like it landed from space.”
“It’s a sort of like stripped-down version of the standard five-way switch and two knobs. I got rid of the tone knob because of a tour in North America, and the only tour where I’ve had a guitar tech because we were sharing one with another band. He would tune the guitars with the tone knob rolled off because it works better in a ‘vibration-y’ environment! So he would roll the tone knob off and give it to me still with the tone knob off and I’d start playing thinking, this sounds horrible. So I got rid of it so I could never make that mistake again.”
“It’s a similar situation with the pickups in that I found I was only using the two humbuckers and then one of the two positions that split the coils - the rest of the time I’d just be fumbling around in the wrong position. So I turned it into just a three-way position and the middle position gets the Strat-y kind of sounds, which is super cool.”